When I was studying, medlars seemed to be constantly mentioned in Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, and they seemed mystical and strange… fruit that had to be virtually rotten before it was any good to eat. It must have been difficult to catch them at just the right moment. I was told it’s the same with avocados, but I don’t like them when they are too squishy ripe, and similarly Sharon fruit – before they are quite ripe, yuk! When they are ripe – divine! When they are over-ripe -yuk!
As You Like It,
Touchstone: Truly, the tree yields bad fruit.
Rosalind. I’ll graff it with you, and then I shall graff it with a medlar: then it will be the earliest fruit i’ the country; for you’ll be rotten ere you be half-ripe, and that’s the right virtue of the medlar.
Romeo and Juliet:
Mercutio. If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark. Now will he sit under a medlar tree, And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit As maids call medlars, when they laugh alone.
I came across a recipe for using the fruit, first to make jelly, and then to use what’s left over for a marmalde:
- 3 lbs ripe medlars
- 1 lemon
- 1 ½ pint water (use more or less depending on the fruit)
- cut up the medlars, cover in water, add the lemon and simmer until soft and mushy
- strain through a muslin but do not squeeze
- for every ¾ pint of juice add ¾ pound of sugar and stir until dissolved
- boil for a setting point and pour into sterilised jars
- seal and label jars (labelling jars, the most important thing to remember of any recipe!)
- fruit pulp from making medlar jelly
- rub the pulp through a fine sieve
- to each pound of fruit add ¾ pound of sugar
- boil until it sets and thickens, pour into sterilised jars
- seal and label jars
These recipes come from the 1969 Women’s Institute ‘Unusual Preserves’ booklet.
For an entrancing post mentioning medlars and other things too, have a look here: